How to Install and Set Up a WordPress Multisite Network

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Do you want to install and setup a WordPress multisite network? WordPress comes with a built-in feature to create multiple websites using the same WordPress installation.

The WordPress multisite network can be used for blogs, schools, and businesses, which need to run separate websites but want to manage them within the same dashboard.

In this article, we will show you how to install and setup a WordPress multisite network.

What is the WordPress Multisite Network?

The WordPress multisite network allows you to run and manage multiple WordPress sites or blogs from a single WordPress installation.

It allows you to create new sites instantly and manage them using the same username and password. You can even allow other users to register and create their own blog on your domain.

WordPress multisite comes with advanced settings that you can use to customize every website or blog on the network.

Advantages of Using WordPress Multisite

In many situations, multisite WordPress can be more useful than managing multiple standalone WordPress sites. Here are some of the advantages of using a WordPress multisite network:

  1. As a network administrator, you can easily manage multiple sites from one dashboard.
  2. Each site on the network can have its own admin. Site admins will have the ability to manage only their own website.
  3. You can install plugins/themes and activate them for multiple sites with one download.
  4. The multisite network also makes it easy for you to manage updates. You can update WordPress, plugins, or themes in one master installation.

Disadvantages of Using WordPress Multisite

Creating a multisite WordPress network is not always helpful in managing multiple sites. Here are some drawbacks that you need to know before starting a multisite network.

  1. All sites on the network share the same resources. This means when the network is down, all other sites are down too.
  2. It is not easy to manage traffic and server resources for novice users. If one of your websites gets unexpected traffic, it will affect all the other websites on the network.
  3. If one website is hacked, then this means all the sites in your network will be hacked too.
  4. Some WordPress plugins may not work properly on a multisite network.
  5. WordPress multisite networks are not supported by some web hosting providers.

Choosing a Domain Structure for a Multisite Network

On a multisite WordPress network, you can add new sites using subdomains or subdirectories.

Example of subdomains:

Example of a subdirectory:

If you choose a subdomain, then you must configure a wildcard subdomain on your server. We’ll show you how to do that in the next step.

However if you select a sub-directory, you can skip the next step.

Setup a Wildcard Subdomain

If you choose to use a subdomain for your website on a multisite network, then you need to set up a wildcard subdomain for a multisite network.

In order to do this, you must log in to your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard. After that, you find and click the Domains menu.

Click domains

Note: Depending on your web hosting service, the cPanel dashboard may differ from the image above.

On the next page, you need to click on Create A New Domain.

Click create a new domain

Next, you need to enter *.example.com in the ‘Domain’ field. Be sure to replace ‘example.com’ with your own domain.

Enter wildcard domain

cPanel will automatically detect the Document Root and will display it. Now, click the Submit button to add a wildcard subdomain.

Setting Up Dedicated Domains for Each Site

WordPress multisite also allows you to set up a different domain for each website on a multisite network.

To set up a custom domain, you must use the domain mapping feature and update the nameservers in the domain registrar’s account.

Enabling WordPress Multisite Network Features

The Multisite feature is present in every WordPress installation. All you need to do is install and set up WordPress as you normally would. After that, you just need to activate the Multisite feature.

You can also enable the multisite feature on any WordPress site. We recommend that before enabling multisite, don’t forget to make a backup of the site.

To enable multisite, connect the site using an FTP client or via the cPanel File Manager, and open the wp-config.php file for editing.

Add the following code to your wp-config.php file just before /* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */.

Once done, you can save or upload the wp-config.php file back to the server.

The code above only activates the multisite feature in WordPress. Once enabled, you still need to set up a multisite network.

Setup a WordPress Multisite Network

You have successfully enabled the multisite networking feature in WordPress, now it’s time to set up the network.

If you are setting up a multisite network on a pre-existing WordPress site, you will need to disable all plugins on your site.

Just visit Plugins > Installed Plugins page and select all plugins. You have to select Deactivate from the drop-down menu and then click the Apply button.

Deactivate all plugins

You can go to Tools > Network Setup to configure a multisite network.

Network setup page

On the Network Setup page, you will see a notification that you need to install the Apache mod-rewrite module on the server. This module is installed and activated on all hosting providers.

The next thing you need to do is tell WordPress what kind of domain structure you will use for the sites on your network, for example subdomains or subdirectories.

After that, you need to provide a title for your network and make sure that the network admin email address is correct.

Click the Install button to continue.

WordPress will now show you some code that you need to add to the wp-config.php and .htaccess files.

Network Setup Code

You can use an FTP client or File Manager in cPanel to paste the code in these two files.

After that, you will need to log back into your WordPress site dashboard to access the multisite network.

Configuring Multisite Network Settings

You have set up a multisite network, now it is time to configure network settings.

You will need to switch to the Network Dashboard to change network settings, add new sites, and configure other settings.

When you hover your mouse over the My Sites menu in the admin toolbar, a popup flydown will appear. Click on Network Admin > Dashboard.

Open network dashboard

Next will open ‘Dashboard Multisite Network’. You will notice that there is a new menu item for managing multisite networks.

You’ll also see the Right Now dashboard widget that lets you create a new site and add new users.

Add new site

To configure network settings, you need to click on Settings in the left panel.

Network settings

Add New Sites to WordPress Multisite Network

To add a new site to the WordPress multisite network, go to My Sites > Network Admin > Sites.

Add new multisite site

This will display a list of sites on the current multisite installation. By default, you will have your main site listed as the only site on the WordPress multisite network.

To add a new site, click the Add New button at the top.

Click add new

On the ‘Add New Site’ page, you must add the site address. You don’t need to type in the full address, just the part you want to use as a subdomain or subdirectory.

Next you need to add a site title, and enter the admin email address.

Add new site

You can add an admin email address other than the one you currently use to manage a multisite network.

If the current email address is not used by another user, then WordPress will create a new user and send the username and password to the email address you entered.

When finished, click the Add Site button.

A new site will be added to your WordPress multisite network. As a network admin, you will also receive a new site registration email.

If you create a new user, you will receive an email with instructions for setting a new password and login.

We hope this article helped you learn how to install and set up a WordPress multisite network.

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